Monday, August 25, 2014

NCRS Summer Interns: Back to School Time

So I don't know how many times I've said it, but time really does go by too fast.  It seems like our MSU summer interns only just showed up to go to work at the NCRS, and now it's already time for them to leave.  They were just children then.  And now I would grant them all full fledged agronomist status. I've shown them all several times in the blog while they conduct their various intern duties.  We were truly fortunate to have such a great and hard working group.  Well they are Spartans after all.  Below we see Emily, Jimmy, Kalvin and Kelly suited up for the company scavenger hunt earlier this summer.
A little background perhaps?
Emily is from Dansville, MI and will be a Junior this fall.  She worked in the Field Crop research area this summer. She grew up on a pumpkin and livestock farm and is majoring in Crop and Soil Sciences. She was always active in 4-H and FFA, and was a state officer during her Freshman year at MSU.  All of the interns have a special research project, and her's was to evaluate the effects of different fertilizers on alfalfa yield and quality.  She is interested in research and wants to continue on towards a Master's degree, possibly in forages.
Jimmy is from Clarkston, MI and will be a Senior this fall in Crop and Soil Science. He worked in Specialty Crop research this summer, and said he was glad to be able to expand his crop knowledge beyond just field crops.  He has also previously worked as an intern for MSU extension out in the Thumb, and enjoys crop scouting.  His summer project was evaluation of sulfur and magnesium foliars on potatoes.  Jimmy hope to make a career as an ag industry agronomist.
Kalvin is from Perry, MI and will be Sophomore in Crop and Soil Science this fall.  He worked in the Field Crop group.  He grew up on a field crop farm and loves working in agriculture...outside in the field.  He is an FFA veteran, having been a regional officer his senior year, and enjoyed the state competitions.  He started raising Honeybees many years ago and still maintains hives back home. Kalvin's summer project was soil sampling over time following broadcast and sidedress applications of different liquid nitrogens.  When he graduates in a few years, he would like to continue working with growers as an agronomist.
And Kelly is from Litchfield, MI and will be a Senior in  Ag Food and Natural Resources.  She said this is a broad base agri-business major.  She too was active in 4-H and FFA and even considered being a vo-ag high school teacher for awhile.  But now is looking to work in agri-business in the future. Her summer project was evaluation of different foliar fertilizers on Concord grape bunch and grape growth.  It was a good research experience she said.

It was very rewarding to hear them tell how much they all learned this summer during their final reports.  They also respected the amount of responsibility that they were given.  Below we see that they can go from the field to a business meeting in no time flat.  In addition to the field work, they were also very helpful in several company events, such as the Corporate Growth Conference below.
So it will be nice to look back on these pictures and remember how much we all enjoyed having them at the NCRS this summer.   And hopefully we can stay in touch as they graduate and move on into the challenging yet rewarding world of agriculture.  I would recommend any of them.  As I said earlier, they are Spartans after all.  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bucket of Ice Water for Reid

So no doubt you have seen the ALS charity events of late where people are getting buckets of ice water dumped on their heads.  Amazing how much money has been raised so quickly.  Now it seems the challenge is to be more and more inventive.  Well field agronomist Reid was challenged, and decided to carry it out at the NCRS last Friday afternoon.  No ordinary bucket would do.  So he selected a backhoe bucket.  Well a bucket is a bucket.  And it was filled with ice and water.  And yes it was cold.
Reid assumes the position.  There were probably a dozen people from the farm there to witness the event.  Fortunately someone suggested that Reid should probably kneel.  You know, we don't want to damage the backhoe.
 Splash!  A direct hit.
                                             Refreshing!  At least I think that's what he said.
 He didn't have a regular towel, so I offered a paper towel.  Don't want him to catch cold.
 And Reid's wife Kacie flew all the way from Texas to witness her husband in action. 
OK, I probably shouldn't have done that last bit, but it's hard to stop.  It was a worthy fete, and he made more challenges.  So congratulations for the contribution.  Now go enjoy the Pure Michigan weekend.

Friday, August 22, 2014

2014 Research Field Days Are Underway

So this past week we hosted the NCRS part of the Research Field Days.  There were 3 farm tours each on both Tuesday and Thursday.  Certainly one of the big draws was to see the big ear of corn fertilized with AgroLiquid.  I don't know if so many people came to see that, or to listen to Stephanie.  Here they got to do both.
But seriously folks, there were hundreds of visitors from all over the country here on those two days, with repeat performances next week.  In fact, the message is now worldwide as I talk to Mike Hanson of RFD TV who was there to record some of the happenings.  Mike and I are buds, having been the host on one of my appearances on the RFD Live TV show.
Part of the field day is touring different demonstrations on our Farm 12, the "demonstration" farm. Here we see Tim talking to a group about soybeans and fertilizer placement options.  Before that he showed how one of our planters is set up for liquid application.
Brian tells all who listen about using Liquid on potatoes and dug some up to show and tell.
Jeff is talking about fertilizer effects on corn roots.  Can you see them?  Me neither.  I will try to get closer next time.  But reviews were very favorable.
Just because you are an intern doesn't mean that you don't get put to work showing the demonstration plots.  Emily talks to a group about winter wheat fertilizer options.  It is  a good stand of winter wheat that was planted earlier just for this demonstration.  Accommodating, aren't we?  And I had hoped to get a picture of everyone in action, so that is part of Kalvin's head beneath the arrow.  So he too was working.  I'll do better next time.
Moving off the demonstration farm onto some actual research plots was next.  Here is horticulturalist Jake explaining all there is to know about the high density apple orchard.  Even though he has only been here a short time, he is well versed in this area and did a good job of explaining it to the group. Although the vast majority of those in attendance only eat, rather than grow apples, the information was good to know.  All farmers like to learn about growing stuff.
Stephanie talks about the importance of sulfur fertility on growing top yielding corn.  Sulfur is often a limiting nutrient, and AgroLiquid has the products to take care of it.  In making input decisions in low corn price years, don't cut something that will produce many times the value of the input.
One of the six tours was rained out.  That was Tuesday late afternoon.  Well I will say that in the 20+ years of doing farm tours, this is the first time that we have been driven indoors by rain. (We ended up with 0.6") But we have always had our Plan B slide show (or PowerPoint show) ready in waiting. Well this time it paid off as we made our tour stops on the screen by showing pictures and explaining what they would have seen.  Like interns Jimmy and Kelly here on vegetables and vine crops. They even brought some in to show.  Much better than 2 hours of shadow puppet shows.
Finally new field agronomist John Leif talked about the 4R program for nutrient stewardship.  That being the Right Source, Rate, Time and Place.  AgroLiquid nutrition can get you there for all of that.
I actually talked at a stop on AgroLiquid sustainabilty to answer the question:  Are AgroLiquid programs sustainable over time for both yield and soil test?  Well I didn't get a "selfie" but it was good. Well I thought so anyway.  As I said, the fun begins again next Tuesday.  If you haven't been yet, now's your chance.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Meet Me in Maryland

So it's Saturday night...what else is there to do but put up another blog post?  This was actually from last Monday and Tuesday when I made my way to Maryland to see fertilizer plots established by our friend Ron Mulford.  I was met there by field agronomist John and SAM Benjy, who are talking to Ron himself below.
 Ron is retired from the University of Maryland as manager for the Poplar Hill Research and Extension Facility located downstate on the Eastern Shore near Salisbury.  Although retired, Ron still has access to some plot ground there and is not one to sit around.  He loves plotwork, and likes AgroLiquid, and has run tests for many years on a variety of corn, wheat and soybean plots.  So that is part of many of the tests he runs.  Like this plot of soybeans that is testing different foliar applied fertilizers.  He also has some corn fertilizer tests there.  It was a good visit.

 After looking at plots for awhile, Benjy enjoys a corn snack.
Haven't we seen this before?  Well we're seeing it again on Tuesday headed to some off-site corn tests.
 Here we are seeing some different nitrogen sidedress treatments.  They used drop nozzles to spray a band of the different nitrogen solutions at sidedress.  The target rate was 120 lb of N per acre.  Below is an application of 30 gal/A of High NRG-N.  Looks pretty good considering all of the rain this summer.
 Below is a plot that received 120 lb-N/A as 27-0-0-3.  This soil, like so many these days, need sulfur.
 Here is only 16 gal/A of High NRG-N.  Looking for a rate break in applied N, I think this is it.  But we will see what it yields.
 This one looks good.  It is 120 lb-N/A as 30% UAN.  Not 32%, not 28%...the great compromise at 30%.  Still seems unusual to me.
 And here is a plot that received no additional N at sidedress.  So he yields will tell the whole story.  But I would say that this one is not looking so good.  
 And of course it started raining while we were at the far end of the field.  Time to leave, but notice  that Benjy's hat also makes a nice umbrella.
It was back to Salisbury to my favorite restaurant there for a great seafood lunch.  Still hoping they will open one in St. Johns.

Friday, August 15, 2014

We Ready! For the RFD's that is.

So here I am getting out of order again, but I wanted to share what went on at the NCRS just a few hours ago.  Well first I drove in and saw all of the beautiful sunflowers.  And they were full of buzzzzzing bees.
But today was the practice run for the Research Field Days that begin next Tuesday.  What? You haven't committed to coming to see us?  What's up with that?  Well here is what you will see at the NCRS part. We practiced our presentation on each other.  Certainly a critical crew.  Jeff will be covering effects of different planter fertilizers on root growth in corn.  Now who wouldn't want to see that?
And here is Tim, still holding onto a soybean plant like he was in Minnesota.  But he is showing different fertilizer placement effects on roots.  I would crawl across the Sahara to see that.
Brian shows different fertilizer programs on growth of potatoes here.  I hung onto every word.
MSU intern Emily shows different fertilizer programs on recently planted winter wheat.  See, we planted it early just so you can see what happens soon after planting. Just for your viewing pleasure at the Research Field Days.
Kalvin discusses fertility of sugarbeets and Navy Beans.  If you can't read his lips in this picture, you had better come here.
Remember Jimmy and Kelly?  Well you can see them in person next week at the demonstrations of vine crops, onions, watermelons and probably any other crop you want to see.  See them now before they go back to that phenomenal institute of learning: Michigan State University. (Go Spartans.)
And I will be addressing long-term program sustainability of AgroLiquid corn and soybean programs. Research proves performance, something that is really needed in times of lower commodity prices. Hear me now, believe me later!
Stephanie talks about critical sulfur inputs for corn.  Fortunately AgroLiquid has you covered there. Research proven no less.  Tim draws a line in the sand.  Cross at your own peril. 
New field agronomist John is not to be left out of the action.  What will he be addressing?  Better come to find out.  It can be the difference between Easy Street and Bumpy Road.
I see that I left out our new researcher Jacob at the apple orchard.  Ooops.  Well if you want to see what is up in the orchard, come see him in person. (Sorry Jake.  I have given myself a series of wrist slaps.  Ouch man.)  So how can you come to see all of this in person?  Well go to your favorite website:  No wait, that's this one.  I mean and click on Stephanie in the home page banner and you will be magically transported to a registration page.  Just pick the date and time you want to come....and your're in.  See you there.
Well this next item should have had it's own blog post, but you're already here.  There are two new research videos posted on the website.    Go there and click the word "Research" and you will be face to face with the videos. One features our field agronomists and the work they do where they are around the country.  And the second details what exactly it is that goes on at the NCRS. They were filmed at early-season and mid-season at the NCRS.  Non-stop fun, so check them out.
Well us researcher types will be mulling over our presentations this weekend in anticipation of the Research Field Days.  We are proud to show our commitment to Research and the development of the the top nutrient products available today.  See you next week.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Carolina Sun - Catch It While You Can

So it had been wet in North Carolina when I was down there last week.  On Wednesday Ashley and I attended the 44th Annual Blackland Farm Managers Tour held at the Tidewater Research Station of NC State in Plymouth, NC.  Recall that the Blackland is the farming area around there that was cleared pine forest land that I showed yesterday.  Anyway, I like farm tours where I can be a visitor rather than a host, so I was looking forward to it.  But wouldn't you know, it had rained so much of late that we were unable to go into the field to see the plots.  This is always a fear of tour hosts.  But they were prepared with backup presentations in the buildings and tents. I was impressed with their preparedness. 
One of the presentations was by Dr. Ron Heiniger who is a well known NC State agronomist.  He talked about things like planter population, light, water management, seed treatments and other effects on corn yield.  
 But one thing he showed was really interesting, or so I thought.  We have all heard about the importance of uniform corn seedling emergence.  Well he went out and marked corn spikes that emerged on the first day, and then those that emerged one and two days later.  Well he went out recently and collected ears from corn plants that emerged first and later.  There was a big difference as the later emerging ears were always much smaller.  I may try something like that at the NCRS comparing fertilizers.
Glyphosate (Roundup) weed resistance is a big topic, especially in the South where there seem to be more weeds.  Palmer Amaranth is a tough one for Roundup resistance, and they were encouraging growers to use a soil applied herbicide.  Here is a slide that was shown where a soil application of Valor gave pigweed control, which means don't chance resistant weed escapes with a post-only program.
 And here was one of my favorite presentations: lunch.  Fresh watermelons for appetizers.
No one left before lunch.  This field day had the best food of any I have ever attended, including at the NCRS.  
There was chicken (!), trout (!!) and shrimp (!!!).  Plus potatoes and more watermelon. Can you believe it?  Sign me up for next year already.
After that we went back to Pantego to see our other plots with Impact Agronomy, a contract researcher and crop consulting service.  In addition to the corn at Dark Water shown earlier, they had a soybean experiment on their own nearby farm.  These were in 36" and had planter applied and foliar applications.  Looked good, but it was so muddy we couldn't go in and count pods.  Not that I would have done that anyway.  I'm just sayin'.

 The farm dog followed us all the way out there and brought his muddy tennis ball for someone to throw so he could fetch.  Aww, look at him.  How can Ashley just walk by and not give it a toss?  On a different note, see that brown corn in the background?  Diseased?  Drought?  No, it was an early hybrid that they hoped could be harvested early and then plant some double crop soybeans.  But not this year. It has rained so much that they couldn't get it harvested.  So it will be interesting to see how much it eventually yields, compared to full season hybrids.
 Later we went to another farm to see our cotton experiment.  That's Allen from Impact on the left.  The sun had come out and this place was drier.  The cotton looks good.  They have a 2-row cotton picker for yield, and we will also get fiber quality ratings.  Lot's of bolls.  I'm not good at predicting cotton yields, and there were still some flowers present anyway.  I would like to come back later after defoliation to check boll counts of different treatments.  We'll see.
Then we made the long drive down to Clemson, SC.  I mean you can only play the billboard alphabet game so many times.  That night we met up with AgroLiquid chemist Chris.  He actually got his Ph.D. at Clemson, and was there to finish some business of some sort.  (I think he had left a Bunsen burner on or something.)  Anyway, Clemson has a good turf program, and Chris had been working on a new turf formulation and had contacted a Clemson turf scientist to conduct some tests on Zoysia grass.  Here we were last Thursday with Chris, Ashley, Dr. Haibo Liu and two of his graduate students.  He is a nice guy with lot's of experience.
And here are the plots.  They are short, and fertilizers are applied every other week during the summer with a backpack sprayer.  In the test there are the two existing GreenLawn fertilizers, a standard commercial comparison product, no fertilizer and then the experimental.  It was impressive, as the test formulation was clearly the darkest green in each of the four replications.  It's the second, third, first and fourth plot from the left in each row as you go back.  All treatments had the same rate of applied N. The test fertilizer impressed Dr. Liu.  Does anyone have an idea of what we can do with a good turf product?  Not one of Liquid's markets of experience.  But that may change someday.
 Here are a bunch of flowers planted in the turf research area right on campus.  I had never been to Clemson before.  Nice place. We drove past Death Valley, if you know what that is.
 Later in the afternoon we had driven down to the big town of Elko, SC.  I'll bet you didn't know that that's where R&B singer James Brown lived his early life, in poverty there.  Called the Hardest working man in show business, and there is a movie coming out soon about him.  Like most big stars, much talent, but many troubles.  That's why I stay in agriculture, but often wonder where my singing could have taken me.  But back to matters at hand, we have another contract research test of foliar fertilizer applications on cotton and soybeans.  Here Chris and Ashley inspect for pods, or something.
 The researcher said that soybeans are not grown much around there due to deer damage.  Imagine not being able to grow a crop due to deer feeding.  I mean it's a problem in many areas, but I guess I hadn't thought of it keeping you from planting.  Sounds like they need wolves or something.  But for the test, I noticed a ribbon around the plots.  Well it seems they soak that in a deer repellent, and have it at nose level.  For deer that is.  And supposedly they smell it and run away.  The product is called Plot Saver. I looked at a jug, and the active ingredients are: putrescent whole egg solids (?), rosemary oil and mint oil.  Now I had never heard of putrescent whole egg solids, and hope I never hear of it again.  The stuff smells like camphor or something.  Don't know where the eggs come in.  But I guess it works as there was no deer damage that I could see.  Maybe we should try that on some of the NCRS.
 Later that afternoon I caught a plane from Columbia to Atlanta and then back to MI.  I have always said that I like being places, but don't like travel part so much.  Atlanta airport is sure busy.  Where could all these people be going?  
Well that was last week.  Still have to tell you about where I was this week.  It was still out East.  And it did involve airports.